Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology seeks to provide the first unbiased and holistic overview of the divisive faith that is Scientology. Reitman focuses on five key elements of the Scientology story: a history of the religion's rise, as well as the rise of its creator, L. Ron Hubbard; a detailed account of the vicious internal coup by current leader, David Miscavige; the sad and shocking story of the death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson; an outline of the controversial "celebrity strategy"; and multiple narratives detailing the current mass exodus from a corrupt and abusive church.
Narrator Stephen Hoye does an excellent job with the book, which presents many unique challenges. He successfully tackles a wide range of subject matter from Hubbard's sterile, futurist terminology to some of the more personal, emotionally gripping stories. Hoye serves as a calm voice of reason, guiding us through a potentially confusing world of Orgs, Tech, and more acroynms than a high-level business meeting.
The picture that emerges is a multifaceted one. Outsiders with cursory knowledge of the faith generally associate it with a crackpot Sci-Fi writer looking to make a buck, brainwashing techniques, salacious scandals, never-ending lawsuits, and a creation myth featuring aliens, volcanoes, and movie theaters. While Reitman doesn't exactly dispel these notions completely, she does provide rich historical background and a true look inside this mysterious faith. The truth about the religion, after all, is much more complex than what's presented on the surface.
The promises of Scientology range from the enriching (freedom from mental and emotion anguish) to the humanitarian (providing aid to developing countries and ways out of drug addiction) to the transcendent (immortal life, free of an earthy body). While people are drawn to the faith for all kinds of reasons, Reitman shows us that most Scientologists are just normal people trying to do good in the world and better themselves. Unfortunately, some of these people have been swept up in a devastating new movement within the upper ranks of the church, which has become increasingly obsessed with greed, domination, and power.
Perhaps the most artful facet of this book is that, in true journalistic style, Reitman does her best to simply present the facts and leave the conclusions to the listener. After all, like Hubbard used to say, "What's true is what is true for you." Gina Pensiero
Scientology, created in 1954 by a prolific sci-fi writer named L. Ron Hubbard, claims to be the world's fastest-growing religion, with millions of members around the world and huge financial holdings. Its celebrity believers keep its profile high, and its teams of "volunteer ministers" offer aid at disaster sites such as Haiti and the World Trade Center. But Scientology is also a notably closed faith, harassing journalists and others through litigation and intimidation, even infiltrating the highest levels of government to further its goals. Its attacks on psychiatry and its requirement that believers pay as much as tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars for salvation have drawn scrutiny and skepticism. And ex-members use the Internet to share stories of harassment and abuse.
Now Janet Reitman offers the first full journalistic history of the Church of Scientology, in an even-handed account that at last establishes the astonishing truth about the controversial religion. She traces Scientology's development from the birth of Dianetics to today, following its metamorphosis from a pseudoscientific self-help group to a worldwide spiritual corporation with profound control over its followers and even ex-followers.
Based on five years of research, unprecedented access to church officials, confidential documents, and extensive interviews with current and former Scientologists, this is the defining book about a little-known world.
©2011 Janet Reitman (P)2011 Tantor
"A detailed and readable examination of the life of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the church, and his successor, David Miscavige." (Publishers Weekly)
I am not an ex-Scientologist, I am not a member of any anti-Scientologist organization, and I am not affiliated in anyway with Scientology. I feel I must preface that. :) As one who is interested in many religions, cults and worship practices; this was definitely my cup of tea. The book was well written and the narration was FANTASTIC. Out of pure curiosity, I have visited many ex Scientology websites, watched the YouTube videos from Anonymous and ex members, I have been to the websites about Lisa McPherson and I have read a lot of Hubbard's teachings and information. There is a lot of in-depth information about Lisa McPherson in this book and I must say it was fascinating and of course, sad. The book flows nicely between the past and present and weaves in stories of ex members seamlessly. I was particularly interested Hubbard's relationship with John Whiteside Parsons. Parsons' relationship to the occult and Aleister Crowley was fascinating and did lead me to do some fun research. There are many things that disturbed me about this book, and it was not the writing or the author, it was the alleged forced abortions, abuse of church members, young children being shipped off to live, work obey and dress a tyrannical leader and also, this book does passively imply that Charles Manson may have used Hubbard's techniques in controlling his flock or "family" to commit the infamous Sharon Tate murders. This book delves deep into the realm of Scientology we "outsiders" do not experience and gives first hand knowledge of the inside from ex members, which I very much appreciated. I did not feel the author had contempt or ill will toward David Miscavige, or Scientology in general, but wanted to get to the bottom of the rumors, bad press and basically tell the story of what Scientology is and why Scientology is "a big deal." If you are interested in Scientology, get this book. I definitely wanted to hear more.
Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!
First off, with all the threats of legal action (and allegedly physical threats as well) it's quite an accomplishment that this book was even written. This book was truly revealing, into just how weird these people actually are. When you find out the past of the guy that created the religion, it will shock you that anyone takes it seriously. I wouldn't be surprised if this book brings down the whole house of cards. I mean, how can you possibly read this and NOT think these people are ignorant sheep at the very least, and clinically insane at the worst??
Just going by what I read in the book, Scientologists. Don't sue me, please.
This is certainly the most well-researched book out there on this subject. The sections about Tom Cruise were quite interesting. Narrarator is outstanding.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone considering joining Scientology or knows someone who is. Fortunately, I learned what a scam they are after feeling worse from their treatments and loosing only $15,000.
At the height of my high-tech career, which was going great, I was suddenly stricken with a suicidal depression, one which lasted 7 years. I went to a psychiatrist, but got only sporadic relief. I foolishly turned to Scientology, and after scoring a “minus 90%” on the optimism-depression scale of their Oxford personality test, I was told that they had a cure and I would really be able to “go places” once they had repaired me. Further, that I had been a victim of psycho-quackery which would never help me (and they were right on this point), but now I had found the source of all healing. I signed up.
After a year of treatments, at $130 an hour, I took their test again and scored a “minus 95%”.
By their own measure, I was even more depressed. I asked,
He keeps the listener interested, even when some details seem tedious.
It is simply amazing what can be achieved just with BS and PR.
Scientology's assertions, methods and planned responses to perceived threats make Bernie Madoff's scam appear downscale, friendly, and amateurish.
angry music fan
The author does her best to present the information in an unbiased manner, albeit the listener can't help but draw inevitable conclusions about the Church of Scientology from the facts and eye witness testimony presented within. The book begins with a history of LRH and how the church itself evolved over the years. Although most people will tend to be interested in the later stuff involving Tom Cruise (which is quite fascinating), the author does a good job of covering all aspects of the church's history.
Several themes crop up again and again, among them are the church's insatiable appetite for money collection, repeated use of lawyers to bully church "enemies", and the ultra-secretive nature of the church's "cannon". The author also shows the very subtle way that people are lured into the religion. At the surface the church promotes very practical applications of "LRH technology" such as auditing to rid the mind of unpleasant memories or reading/scholastic programs to help children learn. However, these are merely for show. At the heart of scientology is a manipulative program designed to draw people deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole until they end up turning over a significant portion of their income to the church.
All of this is done in a rather entertaining fashion with a really good narrator. Some parts were actually quite shocking. Highly recommended.
Say something about yourself!
This is an "in between read", I just happened to remember stashing away, and pulled it up when the earth-shattering news hit that a very famous couple was breaking up. How timely, and wickedly fortuitous for me.
Any "religion" is vulnerable presented to the world by an author, but Reitman stays respectably and incredibly unbiased, even though presenting some stories and facts that point to some pretty logical conclusions, that more than just slant a little toward the negative side. After reading this book, I am struggling to write an objective review - trying to settle myself with the opposing ideas of respect for all people's belief-systems, and Scientology, whose founder once made the guileful remark, "If you want to get rich,you start a religion". It is a conundrum, matched only by my curiosusity and confusion regarding the secretive Scientologists.
The Publisher's Summary and the Audible Editor Reviews cover the content of this book thoroughly, and I'd suggest reading some of these great customer reviews: Matt/Hood River, Roger/American Fork, Brad/ Tuscaloosa, Baker/ Casselberry. Inside Scientology is presented in a professional journalistic manner. Sometimes the load of information can become a little weighty and routine, more than a person who is just curious may want--especially for 15-plus hours. Reitman is a contributing editor for The Rolling Stone, and I found some of her interviews, as well as some of the articles about Scientology, in The Rolling Stone to be more candid and personable. I enjoy reading about philosophies, religions, theologies, and was therefore occasionally fascinated--particularly with the etiology of the religion and Hubbard's connection to occultist Aleister Crowley (via Jack Parsons). Overall, I came away with a little knowledge and a lot less understanding. Very noteworthy piece of research and journalism, well written and understandable, and fitting narration. Still, I'd only recommend for those that want to know everything available about Scientology, including the minutiae.
Karen of Northern Michigan
I have always wondered what Scientology really was.. I've done research on the subject but was never really able to get to the heart of it... This book is written not in a way to convince you one way or the other, but to give you the facts and let you decide for yourself..
It appears Scientology has a very dark side to it. Parts of the story are a little slow moving, but all in all, it's very interesting.
The book explains John Travolta and Tom Cruise connection to Scientology, too..
An in depth and comprehensive story from Dianetics to a corporation seeking tax exempt status as a religion. This story could only be revealed in the age of the internet because the secrets of Scientology can not be hidden so well.
The cat is out of the bag.
The book seems well balanced and factual.
'Very entertaining and weird.
Reitman has given us a masterfully researched and compellingly written book. I found it riveting and impossible to stop listening. Very well read as well.
...to an extremely complex subject. Reitman has done her homework and has come out with a fair-minded yet damning excoriation of one of the world's strangest phenomena.
This is a lucid and readable (listenable?) account of Scientology that is, fascinatingly, heavy on facts. Her discussion of the Lisa McPherson case is useful both for its examination of a shocking incident and for what we can infer from it about Scientology and its relationship to its adherents - and to truth.
I am a co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto, and author of Gonzo Marketing: Winning Through Worst Practices, and The Bombast Transcripts.
This is an excellent unpacking of one of America's foremost cultural train wrecks. I hope it's true that the power and reach of this twisted organization are on the wane, but I'm not holding my breath. I knew about some of the material in this book, but a lot less than I thought I did. The chapters on the murder of Lisa McPherson are especially gripping - and tragic. btw, the narrator also read The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy, which leant this an extra measure of creepiness for me.
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